If your social media feeds look anything like mine, then your last year has been bombarded with political posts, memes, calls for action, protests, outrage, and posts of support for our public service representatives. For many new and seasoned military spouses there is a gray area as to how vocal or nonvocal we can be when it comes to voicing our opinions on politics. Can our service members get involved in politics? Can we as spouses get involved in politics?
First let’s define what getting involved in politics even means, because it is not limited to Facebook posts or protests. Think of political involvement as a spectrum. At the beginning you have getting informed. You can do this by reading reliable information from the media, following reliable news sources on social media, and following bill proposals by your representatives. The next level may include contacting your local representatives through phone calls, emails, and/or letters, or attending meetings held for their constituents. Then there is volunteering for your political party or working on a campaign. And at the other end of the spectrum is running for office yourself.
So, the question still remains, can a service member and their spouse participate in any of this? And the answer is yes and no. Imagine that! A complicated answer in our military lives.
There are rules for the service member on their ability to be active politically. The policy on this rule is the Department of Defense Directive (DoDD) 1344.10, and was most recently updated in 2008. The DoDD does not take away the service member’s right to register to vote, vote, sign petitions, or contribute money to a campaign. Service members may even have a small bumper sticker on their car supporting a specific candidate if they choose. What they cannot do is use their authority to influence someone to vote one way or another. Anytime they discuss their political views it must be made clear they are their own personal opinions, and not an endorsement of their service branch. Also, they may not attend any partisan event in uniform.
Well that is the service member, but what about spouses? Spouses can say and do what they please in regards to political involvement. This means you can talk about politics. You can post on your social media about politics. You can volunteer for a political party. You can volunteer for a campaign. You can even run for office yourself. One would even be able to argue more military spouses should be involved, since so many policies directly impact our families in more ways than civilian families.
Some organizations that advocate for military spouses and military rights are Homefront Rising, and the Military Spouse JD Network. There is a network of people and organizations out there to help you along if you have interest in a future in politics.
Still unsure about what you or your service member can or cannot do politically?
Check out the article below! I found it very helpful in my own research: